Truly Concerned

I’m deeply concerned over this whole entire matter.  First, there are the comments by a number of my readers is that I have done something wrong by publishing the names and photo of these girls.  After all, their names, the video, and their team photo are all public domain repeated many times over.  There were no hate charges laid, so there was no publication ban of any sort.

Given that they’ve issued an apology, I’ll remove the girls photo and my harsh words about these young women.  However, I was simply giving credit, where credit was due.  After all, they have proudly circulated the video amongst themselves for a couple of months, laughing about it, enjoying their schoolyard notoriety.

Admittedly, these racist girls are sorry that they’ve simply treated our traditions as an “just another dance move off MTV”.  Sadly, their Principal, school board and Ontario Provincial Police are concerned mainly with the “power of technology” and how fast the video got out into the global village. 

But this isn’t about how these girls were dancing.  This is akin to going blackface and blaming the consistancy of the make up.  And it isn’t about how fast a “viral” video gets out on the internet.  That’s akin to blaming the efficiency of the lynch mob.

The real problem is I seem to be recieving far more threats, excuses, and stereotypical comments than sympathetic comments.  Far more.  The real issue is that many people commenting on the sitution don’t believe there is a problem.  They don’t believe these girls have done anything wrong.

Folks, racism is real.  Most Anishinabeg have experienced it first hand.  Those of the caucasian persuasion can’t possibly understand.  It’s what social scientists call “white privledge”.  You make your comments from the perspective of the majority.

As the prayer goes: try to walk a mile in our moccasins.  Ask yourself how do their Anishinabe classmates feel?  How about those classmates who sing, dance and go to pow-wow? 

Do you even know what kind of song they danced to?  Well it was a Grand Entry Song, a song that shows deep respect for our Eagle Staffs, our Color Party, the Canadian Flag, but especially the veterans.  Not just Native veterans, but all their comrades.  This is of particular offence to them.

Some question what is so wrong with drinking alcohol and dancing in this way.  First of all, alcohol is strictly forbidden at pow-wows.  More importantly, there are many people and families who use pow-wow singing and dancing as a way of healing and path to sobriety. 

And do you honestly think that these girls overlooked the hurtful stereotype that Natives are all drunks?  I am one of a generation of young Anishinabe who has never touched a drop of alcohol in our lives.

What is in these girls hearts?  What made them do this?  What made them think it was OK.  This is what needs to be addressed.  This is what is needed for healing.

For all my critics out there…  yes indeed, the girls finally admitted this video was recorded three months ago.  Why wasn’t the apology given when it happened?  What happened since then that made them apologize now.

A simple answer…  they got caught.

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6 Comments

  1. Joe Calder says:

    It is disgusting that you are engaging in this witch hunt. This is an isolated incident that deserves consequences. I don’t think it should be made this public. I think, if you were honest, this is being done because First Nations are involved. I am not condoning what was done, but I think this is being overblown.
    This is not about the school or Fort Frances. It is about a few individuals. While tasteless, I wonder how this could become a public issue as this seems to be a private facebook video.
    I am a Metis of Mohawk background and I also think this should mean that Aboriginals should also deal with their disgusting racism against white people.. I am also tired of all the “white” jokes being dealt to non-Aboriginals. Is this going to be aired as well?
    Let the process work itself out. This does not require an overblown action from the school board. They should leave these girls alone now. Start looking at yourself now.

  2. Bob Goulais says:

    Thanks for your comments, Joe. But I wouldn’t go that far. Calling this a “witch hunt” is just wrong and I categorically renounce that. You shouldn’t be calling them that.

  3. giant one says:

    I have to agree with Joe that racism is a two way street and it has to be dealt with the people by their own actions. It is especially difficult for these girls as they live in a community with a large native population. There have been other more terrible racist actions that are being kept off the media attention so far. The story of gang member activities and racism is a minor one that is kept quiet by the police leaving the hospitals and victims dealing with it.
    The effect of colonization has hurt many people of many races. It is not the people that cause racism it is their alignment to a group, a genealogical order, or some idea such as that they have attained or perceive certain ‘rights’ over others. We can impress upon our youth to respect others and I believe that if one of these girls truly removes any racist thoughts then we have made a step forward in the right direction.

  4. Bob Goulais says:

    Racism is a two-way street, I agree… No arguement there.

    Unfortunately, your majority privledge is also showing. You reference to a group having “attained or perceive certain ‘rights’ over others” is something we now consider a contemporary stereotype. I’m sure you are referring to a harboured argument against aboriginal and treaty rights.

    With clear eyes, and if you were to look at it from this perspective: all Canadians have equal legal rights (i.e. the recognition to enforce a legal agreement). The treaties are considered legal documents, which legally entitled non-aboriginal people to settle and use the land for economic purposes. It could be argued that the average Canadian has a lot more treaty rights and residuals than First Nations have.

    If you wish to dispute the treaties and First Nations’ aboriginal and treaty rights (or think they are unfair) – we’d be pleased to consider them null and void. But where would you go, and what would you do for a living?

  5. giant one says:

    I believe the treaties were designed with a purpose to hurt aboriginal people by reducing us to a feudal type system. I would agree to go to an island on the Hudson River and stir things up.

  6. Devon de Verinne says:

    When offering this comment it is not meant to offend it was meant for understanding.
    Do you know that in the history of my niece playing on the hockey team (yes she was one of the girls), before every game (the whole team and coaching staff, and first nation players) had a pow-wow to fire themselves up for the game?
    Do you know that as a parent of grown children I have had my boys pull the wool over my eyes to do something that they know I would not have approved of?
    Do you know how this has affected people within the whole community itself and the seriousness of this issue?
    When I was speaking about motives before I was illuding to the fact that these girls motives may have been mis-interpretated. Believe me, I am not trying to justify this video because it was stupid and ignorant but one thing it was not was hateful. They may have seen it as a way to start the party, like they do the game?
    I myself am fascinated and intrigued by the native culture. I believe society in general would be a much better place to live if we all had such a strong foundation, love and respect of our own culture’s.
    I am not saying that there isn’t underlying racism, I am sure there is but in this case is it possible that you may have it wrong when it comes to the motives of these girls?
    Is it possible we should use this as an opportunity to educate for the purpose of removing barriers?
    In every aspect of life we have those who attain political standing and with that comes a responsibility to affect people’s lives. There are also the radicals who are prepared to destroy people’s lives. Therefore, it is very important for the people with the power positively influence an outcome instead of adding fuel to the fire.
    I really think we all want the same outcome so lets work together for a brighter future.